Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva says he made a mistake

Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva says he made a mistake
Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva emerged from the tunnel to stand for the national anthem on Sunday, while his teammates remained in the locker room. (Image source: CBS Sports screenshot)

Pittsburgh Steelers’ lineman Alejandro Villanueva was praised by many Americans for coming onto the field to honor the national anthem when the rest of his teammates stayed inside the locker room. At a press conference Monday, he explained that he was embarrassed by what he did, and that many were misunderstanding his intentions.

Here’s video of part of his comments:


What did he say?

Chris Adamski of the Tribune Review live-tweeted Villanueva’s comments.

“Every single one of my teammates is extremely supportive and extremely patriotic. I can honestly said that,” he said, according to Adamski.

“I made coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only,” he added. “I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault… only”

Despite becoming the public face of defiance against the protests, Villanueva says he has absolutely no problem personally with teammates taking a knee or sitting during the nation anthem.

“People die for the flag,” he continued, “there’s no way else to put it… There’s nothing else that would justify dying for that mission. When I see the flag during a mission on the shoulders of a shoulder… I’m gonna identify that and we’re fighting for each other.”

“Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally,” he said. “Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed.”

“I don’t have anything to say about the commander in chief and his decisions,” he continued, “nothing to comment about what the president says.”

“People who are taking a knee are not saying anything negative about the military, they’re not saying anything negative about the flag,” he explained, “they’re just trying to protest the fact that there are some injustices in America.”

“And for people who stand up for the national anthem it doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in these racial injustices,” he said, “they’re just trying to do the right things. So we as a team tried to figure it out, obviously butchered it.”

“But I have learned that, y’know, I don’t know what it’s like to be from Dade County,” Villanueva explained, “I don’t know what it’s like to be from Oakland, I can’t tell you that I know what my teammates have gone through, so I’m not gonna pretend like I have a righteous sort of voice to tell you that you should stay out there for the national anthem.”

“It is protected by our Constitution, it’s the freedom of speech,” he added.

“People felt that based on the comments that the president made that they had to go out and protect and support Colin Kaepernick and you know that’s completely their right,” he said.

“But it was not something that we were trying to do with the Steelers,” he concluded, “we were trying to be unified. And unfortunately I made the team look sort of, all over the place and not unified.”

What were the protests in response to?

Many players protested because of the statement that was made by President Trump deriding the demonstrations in a speech in Huntsville, Alabama. The president also referred so protesters with an expletive.

Many detractors of the president have tried to recast his comments in a racial light, but he denied any implication of a racial dimension in his comments.

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